Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful...

I got to spend the day with my parents. My Mom and I ran out to the mall together and my Dad decided to tag along. Fun! When we got back home, my nephew came over to spend the night with my parents and for a little while, the whole core crew was together.  I don't take a single moment for granted. Blessed! =)

Friday, November 22, 2013

TGIF...

Today was a good day. I woke up super sleepy but I got up, gave my thanks for waking up and got the day started.

It seemed like I saw a lot of my friends and associates today at work and outside of work. I ran into a lot of close associates in the cafeteria this morning. Some of whom were on my list to check-in with because I haven't seen them in a while and they work in other departments. Then I went for chocolate run with my friend Karen and had lunch with another co-worker. I walked to get tea with my BFF and then I had dinner with another good friend. It was just an awesome day that way. =)

Hope you guys have a wonderful weekend. God wiling, it will be an awesome and relaxing weekend for me too. Cheers! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Credit Card Balance Transfer...

It's about that time of the year again when the promotional rate on my credit card expires and I look to transfer the balance to another card. The last couple of years I have switched back and forth between Chase to Bank of America. I stopped using my other credit cards and those were closed by the issuer over the years due to non-usage. So all I really have left is American Express, Bank of America, Capital One and Chase.

Chase is offering me a 0% rate through 2/2015 with a 2% balance transfer fee...Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!!!! I will make the transfer at the beginning of December. It will add $350 to the balance but the transfer fee is much less than the 4% I paid last year to move the balance to Bank of America.

Below is a chart showing my balances at the beginning of the year and my balances as of November. As you can see, I am going to have to accelerate debt payments in order to really reduce these balances over the next few years. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Meditiation Challenge....

Now that I am back to work, the Meditation Challenge has been a struggle. I am on Day 10 and I haven't missed a day but doing the meditation in the morning is much better than when I am getting ready to sleep at night. Simply put, I need to get up at least an hour early to get in the 20 Minutes of meditation and 40 minutes of exercise to get my day started off on the right foot. Once I get home, I tend to think only of dinner, shower, rest and relaxation.

I am trying to finish up my online compliance training due at the Bank before 11/30/13. I had seven courses to take and I finished five this morning. Speed reading and then taking the test at the end. It's the same training each year with only small modifications so passing the tests with an 80% or better hasn't been an issue.

I am heading over to Macy's in a few minutes with my co-worker Eric for something called Fellowship Loop. Fellowship is a church on the south side of Chicago that offers downtown church service. I don't remember the frequency. We used to go all the time, but my work schedule hasn't allowed. This month, my calendar was clear so I asked him if he wanted to go. He is the one who got me to attend the first time and it was pretty cool.

Well I am off. Have a wonderful Wednesday! Hump Day Baby! =)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quasi Interview....

I had a quasi lunch interview today and it went very well. My only hurdle is lack of management experience although I am confident that I can do the job. We were talking so much that we ran out of time. I appreciate when that happens with pure strangers. Now that I have an idea of the position, we are going to follow-up again next week so I have some time to think about the position and formulate some questions. The possibility is exciting and I welcome the opportunity to challenge myself to grow and learn something new.

I know I am just getting back to work but I am already looking forward to the weekend and putting up my Christmas Tree which I always try to do the weekend before Thanksgiving. I asked my brother-in-law today if he has time this weekend to help. I know my Dad will be around. It doesn't take too long. I get the thing out of the garage and open it up. Then they come over and string all of the lights and put on the bulbs. My nephew helps me with all the other decorations and he gets chocolate chip cookies in exchange. I like a lot of color so no plain white Christmas trees in the Chitown Family. lol I will post a picture after we get it all set up and twinkling. Just thinking about snuggling on the couch with some hot chocolate and carols playing makes me smile. =)

The Holidays for me mean God, Thankfulness, Family and Love and that's more than enough to put a smile on my face. I am truly blessed!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Vacation...

It's a pretty gloomy day here in Chicago. One of those days when you curl up on the couch with a good book and a cup of tea or watch your shows on DVR. I may do a mixture of both today.

I wish I was on a flight to a sunny beach somewhere. That would be amazing. I love love love to travel, feel the warm sun on my skin and get out for a run to take in more of the scene. I love the sound and peace of the ocean. I can almost hear it now as I type. The beach in Ft. Lauderdale was perfect.

I would also love to travel to a spa. I've had my eye on Miraval in AZ for a few years. I like to take breaks from the ripping and running to just be still and at peace. I also love a great massage and I've never had a facial before. It's on my list of things to experience. 

I had a great day yesterday. I got to the early Church service and as always, Pastor Hannah's message was amazing. We have one of the best praise and worship teams in the Country. They're doing something different this month introducing light worship and they brought in the strings to accompany the band and the music stirred the soul. Amazing! Then the Pastor was moved by a line in the song and stirred up the entire congregation and the energy in the place skyrocketed and you could feel the spirit. It's something special to be a part of and I am so thankful to have found a church home after not growing up in the church at all. 

We had a great time together at the chili cook off. I am so thankful my brother-in-law has some great friends with children around my nephew's age. He's an only child so I was just thrilled to see him have kids to play with yesterday and he played hard for about 8 hours straight with no nap! He was ready to fall out! LOL. He's the cutest little kid and he's got such a positive spirit. I love him unconditionally. The rest of us had a great time in fellowship and my parents even stuck around for a few hours. Great time! I am so incredibly blessed! 

I am starting this 21-day meditation challenge today with Deepak Chopra. I think it would be cool to go to the Chopra Center one day for a retreat. I will let you guys know how it turns out. I've tried the challenges before but I never completed one start to finish. I am going to try to make it a daily practice to meditate twice a day for at least 15 minutes. They say the medical benefits of just that small amount of time is measurable especially with stress reduction.  

Have a great day! 


Thursday, November 07, 2013

October 2013 Recap...

October was a busy but decent month. I posted a slight $554 improvement in my net worth. My cash resources are dwindling a bit but they will be replenished next month. Overall, it wasn't too bad.  I still have to adjust my personal spending which is always a constant battle especially during high emotional times and when I am on the go which is an understatement with work being crazy. All in all, not bad at all.

My retirement account is sitting right around $52k right now. I started contributing 5% a few months ago. I will make adjustments to any investment and property accounts on a quarterly basis instead of annually starting next month.






Saturday, November 02, 2013

Paid in Full...

The weekend is here and guess what?!?? I don't have to work!!! Yes!!! My condo needs a serious cleaning so I am working on that right now. I was going to do it last night but my train was delayed and I didn't get home in time.

I just made a deposit in the Bank this morning so I can pay my monthly expenses. I will be able to pay everything off in full. Thanks to being reimbursed for my expenses in Madison, I will have a couple hundred dollars to get me through November. Thankful!!!

All will be well and better once December comes along. Hard to believe I'll be 36 in exactly one month! Not exactly where I want to be but thankful I'm not where I was just a short time ago. 

Have a great weekend! =)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cloud 9....

I am soooo happy right now! I submitted my draft report yesterday and my close-out meeting went fabulous this morning! My boss was very happy and pleased with my presentation and work product especially with the tight deadline. So so happy! I had my whole family praying for me to do well and I aced it!!! Yes!!!

I cannot wait for the weekend. I am definitely going to get myself to the movies. I am behind and there were some good movies that came out over the last couple of weeks. 

I can't wait to see my nephew in his Ninja costume for Halloween! He's such a cutie pie and just a great 4 year old. Love Him! 

Chitown is on Cloud 9 right now!!! I am closing out this month on a strong and positive note!!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chitown Down But Not Out....

I am struggling...4 straight days with a terrible headache and I have been working like crazy!!!! I finally got my draft report approved and sent out this morning and I will have a close-out meeting tomorrow. I felt so awful last night, my eyes were twitching, my head was hurting and I was super nauseous . I got home around 9pm, took a shower and I was asleep by 10pm and that's not me at all. I am a total night owl. I didn't even eat dinner. I just couldn't wait to get into the bed and go to sleep.

My godfather was back in the hospital after falling on Sunday and dislodging his trache. He'd just had surgery on Friday so that was a bit of a scare because he was having trouble breathing. He's back home and resting. I love that Man. His walk in life is not easy having survived throat cancer but no longer having the ability to eat or drink. Puts a lot of things in perspective.

I am looking forward to the weekend so I can just relax. 11 more days and then I have a week off for vacation. It's been a tough couple of months but I am still managing to keep a smile on my face.=)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Massage...

I just had the most AMAZING massage and it was FREE FREE FREE!!! My Mom knew I was having a hard time with work and she could see me working from 8-8 weekdays and on the weekends. She made the appointment for me. She is the BEST!!! So thankful!!! =)

The massage therapist was excellent. She said my shoulders and neck were so tight and I feel so much better. Woo Hoo!!! Giddy!!! 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Weekend...

I survived the long weekend!  I worked until about 8:30 Friday night and worked all weekend with the exception of going to my nephew's swim practice and a birthday dinner/outing for a friend on Saturday.  I came back into work after Church yesterday and worked until close to 9pm.  The good news is I got my report drafted and I think I might have set a record.  What took me close to 2 months to complete earlier this year, only took me 3 weeks.  I spent a week in Madison, managed a team of 9 people to get all of the work completed and then I scrubbed the data last week and now I am under the gun to get my draft approved and out this week.  I am proud of myself because I know that with my Team Lead under a lot of pressure to meet the month-end fiscal year reporting, I was probably the best person for the job to Lead this Review.  Hopefully the rest of the week will go smoothly and I will finally have a nice weekend after working 3 weekends in a row.  Chitown might even get herself a massage!  Oh yeah!!!

It's funny how people can make such a profound impact on you when you are young.  I was probably in 6th grade when my sister's high school volleyball coach told me that I was "probably the most talented kid she had ever met but I was able the most laziest kid she had ever met!"  That struck such a nerve with me and I made a compete 180 and got myself together.  The next two years, I was in the National Junior Honor Society after not turning in most of my homework in previous years, I graduated in the Top 5 of my high school class and I graduated from Northwestern University having played Division I Softball and earning my degree in Economics.  Now I am a VP, Lawyer and I am on a great path.  One thing I can say about ME is that Chitown is NOT LAZY!!! =)

I hadn't been out in so long with my friends for dinner and dancing and I love, love, love to dance. It's probably the only time I like to wear heels because I get to dance. A birthday was the perfect opportunity to boogie!!! I had a blast. We went to a place called Alhambra Palace for dinner and then walked down the street to a place called Red Kiva for more fun and dancing. Alhambra had a belly dancing troop that put on a performance from about 8:30-10:00pm. The performance was pretty cool and I had a good time.  The most important thing is that my friend had a great time and a great birthday. I was sooo pooped, I had to sit in my car for a good 20 minutes before I could even drive home Saturday night. =)

I am trying to figure out how in the world I am going to pay my credit card bill off at the end of the month. I am looking at a shortage of about $100-$200. I have the cash but I don't want to deplete all of my cash resources. Adding in the weekly counseling sessions is costly but I will be fine going forward and the sessions have been pretty awesome to get me back on solid footing.

Hope you guys had a great weekend. That's about all folks. This will be the last super busy week but I am in the homestretch and I will be free to relax this weekend. Yeah!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Loss of Classmate...

I got home this evening to find out my high school classmate died after giving birth just 9 days ago. She was so ecstatic about being a mom and you could tell she was already in love with her son. My heart is heavy. She had a beautiful and positive spirit. 

It's a wake up call not to take people and time for granted. A person can literally be here today and gone today. Not just tomorrow. Tell and show the people who matter most to you that you love them. Let go of the foolishness and stuff that doesn't matter. Be happy. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Vacation....

I woke up this morning with vacation on my mind. I have a week off from work next month during the week of Veteran's Day and two weeks at Christmas. I need to find myself on a beach somewhere. I made it to FL this summer but the trip wasn't as relaxing as I'd hoped and ended pretty badly so I am not counting that as vacation, rest and relaxation. If I can't make it to the beach, I would love to go to a spa as well. I'll have to look into some options after this busy week is over. 

Saturday was good. I finally had some "me time" after working 6 days in a row. I did some laundry and gave myself a manicure I watched the first and second episodes of Scandal. Awesome!!! I went to get a pedicure and then I was off to see my parents and nephew. Perfect day!

I am rolling out of bed so I can make it to Church and then I have to hit the Library or Starbucks to do some work. Mom is cooking Sunday dinner so I'll be grubbing well this evening. 

Happy Sunday!!! =)

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Bitter Sweet....

I got some great news today. All of my bloodwork came back clean and there are no issues with my kidneys or my liver!!! Yes!!! 

The not so great news is that my Mom just told me my godfather is in the hospital. So I will be heading home from Madison on Friday and going straight to the hospital to see him. He's an amazing man. I get my love of dance from him. He is an African Dancer and can even walk on stilts. He had me and my sister in African dance classes at a young age. My Mom isn't a people person and she's a pretty good judge of character. She absolutely loves my godfather. He's my Dad's childhood friend and he's near an dear to me and my sister. 

My godfather had throat cancer and has a permanent trache so he can't eat or drink. He's kind of pulled away from everyone in the last couple of years. Living with a permanent feeding tube in your stomach and not being able to swallow even water is a very hard existence and life. The measure of his strength cannot be understood. I am very proud of him and I love him very much. 

I know it's hard on my parents. They're 65/64 and funerals are becoming commonplace for classmates and known associates. Our neighbor of 20+ years was just laid to rest last week. It's scary facing the reality that my parents are aging. I am thankful for every call I get to make to them, every visit, every time I get to kiss them on their foreheads, hug them, tell them I love them and have them tell me back and know without a shadow of a doubt they do indeed. Thankful! 

Madison, WI Trip...

Day 3 of the review project went well and we are on Target for a Friday finish. I have a great team with me even if not all of my co-workers are well versed in commercial real estate. The hotel is nice. The company is great. The work is interesting.  Good things all around. 

Here is the view from my room of Lake Monona. =)


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

September 2013 Summary...

My net worth took a slight dip this month. I cannot complain considering I had close to $1,200 in car and house repairs to make. I could have done a little better on my personal spending but all in all, it wasn't a bad month. I did a little emotional eating out but that's slowed down once I settled down. Below is a snapshot from Networthiq and a Budget Breakdown for September.


 
  • Housing: Met plan.
  • Utilities: $19 over plan with last month of $18 WW subscription
  • Transportation: Met plan with very slight $8 deviation. 
  • Personal - Blew the budget by $308. Below is a breakdown. 
    • Clothing & Shopping: $123
    • Entertainment & Hobby: $94
    • Food & Dining Out: $682
    • Grocery & Household: $310
    • Personal Care & Spa: $116
    • Tithing & Offerings: $30
  • Miscellaneous: Over budget by $904 with needed $1,150 in car and home repairs. 
  • Education/Business: Met Plan
  • Credit Card/Debt: Met Plan with $806 towards principal

Friday, October 04, 2013

Let the Weekend Begin...

The weekend is finally here but this week flew by so fast.  It was a busy busy work week but productive.  I will heading to Madison, WI on Sunday afternoon for the week.  I am leading a review up there so it should be interesting and a learning experience. This is only my second review to Lead and this one is an onsite review so I will be representing the team. Fun!

It's Homecoming weekend for Northwestern so I have a few events to attend including an alumni softball game tomorrow. That's going to be fun. Looking forward to seeing some of my old teammates. 

I am working on my September Financial Summary so hoping to post that by Monday.  The results are already posted on Networthiq. You can click on the net worth link to the top right of the page. All in all, I had just a $100 dip in my net worth which isn't bad considering I had close to $1,200 in car and home repairs for the month.

Performance reviews will wrap up by the end of the month and I will know my bonus and raise (if any) soon. Bonuses pay out in the middle of December.

My Dad met with his cardiologist yesterday. He will go for an Eco and Stress Test on my birthday actually, December 2nd, and then they will determine if he will need a defibrillator and/or pacemaker. We are hoping and praying that the meds strengthen his heart so he won't need another surgery. My Dad has been through so much since 2009. We all have really.

Have a wonderful weekend! =)


Thursday, October 03, 2013

Doc Appt & Helping Others....

I get a kick out of helping others and doing for others. I almost think I get more out of the deal in the end. My Mentor asked me to talk with his niece who is a student at Yale. I've been communicating with her over the past few weeks via email and phone and got her resume into the right hands at the Bank. I think she a great hiring candidate and the people I spoke with today were impressed with her resume. The Bank has several training programs that give you a solid financial and banking foundation. Heads of both major programs have her resume in hand. I think it also helps that I stepped up for one of the Heads of the Business Banking program when he asked me a couple years ago to participate as a Mentor in the Bank's work-study program. I still work with my Mentee and he's now a senior in high school. I am helping him get ready for college now. 

The doc visit went pretty good today. She moved to a new office which is really nice. A little further away but still downtown and only a taxi ride away. I never had to give more than 2 viles of blood before but they took 5 viles from me today to test my kidneys and liver. After three, my arm was screaming Uncle! I should have the results back on Tuesday. 

It's Family Thursday which means I get to spend quality time with some of the best people on Earth including the love of my life, my four year old nephew. 

Too blessed to be stressed! =)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October Already....

It's October already.  Wow!!!  Time is flying by and I'll be bundling up for Chicago Winter soon.  I love all four seasons and Fall is my favorite.  Things have been good but super busy.  The weekend was fun. Went to the movies Friday and Saturday, went to see my nephew swim, had brunch with the family and then had an unexpected visit from an old friend Saturday night which turned into Sunday morning.  It was a good time catching up. Church on Sunday, some cleaning up and then Sunday dinner with the family.  Good times.

I kicked off my review project on Tuesday so work will be busy busy for the next few weeks.  I leave for Madison WI on Sunday and will be working onsite there for the week.  Then it's a long Columbus Day weekend and I am looking forward to having some downtime and fun.  Before I know it, it will be November and I'll be decorating for Christmas. Yeah!!! I am such a holiday nerd. =)

I am doing well with my finances.  I will post a September Summary this week.  Onward and upward. Staying on target and staying on plan. Freedom tastes good!!!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Almost Friday...

Thank Goodness!!! I am really looking forward to the weekend and getting the opportunity to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday. I am going to stay up and do a deep clean on the condo this evening and then enjoy a very relaxing weekend. The weather is supposed to be amazing. One day I am going to plan a Fall Wedding. Fall in Chicago is awesome!!!

I am staying up and staying in good spirits. I have the most amazing family and friends. They really make my life seem rich. With them, I can escape the moments of loneliness that comes from living by myself and being quasi-single in the city. They love and support me 100%.

I think I am going to take my computer to Best Buy this weekend to see if they can repair it and do something about the virus I think is on my computer. I've made it over a year with my work computer and iPad but I really need a PC at home. Fingers crossed they can work a miracle. My mom has a new copy of Windows 6 so I am hoping they can get Vista off and install the new software. Then I will be ready to go and that will buy me another year on getting a new computer.

Hope you guys have a wonderful day! =)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hit a Wall...

Boy oh boy did I hit a wall today. This month has been grueling with work off the chain and things going on in my personal life. I treated myself to lunch and then came home to pass out for about 3 hours. I just wanted a cat nap so I could go to the park but I was out for the count. Completely exhausted. 

I enjoyed lying there and relaxing. Something I don't do too often and probably not often enough. It's usually GO-GO-GO until I pass out. 

I am working on my weekend plans already. lol. I want to have some fun this weekend and I may try to get a massage. My Mom gave me a gift certificate so I'll try to get an appointment for Saturday to get some of this tension out of my neck and shoulders. Church on Sunday and I may try to check out the new movie Baggage Claim coming out this weekend. 

I had a plumber come out yesterday to rod the condo main line so I have full use of my kitchen again. Now I can cook a little more and take leftovers for lunch. That would save me some moola if I could bring my lunch at least 2 times a week. Thumbs up! 

Now it's back to working out. I am starting Insanity next week so that's a solid 60-day program. I'll be done by my 36th birthday in December. I'll be in the best shape ever and that's the best birthday gift I give myself. Good health and happiness. Cheers!


Hump Day...

I had Jury Duty today. I was sitting there doing some work and hoping to get called and dismissed early. Well I never got called and we were dismissed at lunchtime. Perfect! I did my duty.

Now how shall I spend the rest of my day?!?! I need to work but it's a beautiful day. There's no law against working in the park or outside somewhere else. Fun!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Finance & Fitness Update...

I wanted to come by and give a quick update. Things are going well but it's been a crazy few weeks with my Dad in the hospital, the marathon, more car issues and usual working/life. 

Good news is my Dad is doing great and my car is doing better. I finished the half marathon in 2:31, two minutes faster than my time in 2011 so I'm pleased. 

Spending has been so so but I haven't done horribly at all despite all the craziness the last couple of weeks. I've been successfully experimenting with some less expensive hair products so I've managed to cut down even more. 

I managed to cut my spending a little over the last month so I didn't have to use my entire $1,000 eFund for the $1,050 in car repairs. My CC bill gets paid at the end of the month and I should have roughly $500 leftover in the eFund. 

After taking a week off, I have to get back to working out and figuring out what's next for me. I think I'll go back to the Insanity Program from Beach Body. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Day 13 Finance & Fitness Challenge....

Good Morning!

My Dad is still in the hospital.  He should be discharged today and will have to go back in 3 weeks for a stress test.  There is a high likelihood that he will need to get a defibrillator and possibly a pacemaker in the next 3-6 months.  It's just been a scary few days. He's on a diuretic to remove the excess fluid that was building in his body and he's feeling much better and breathing easier.  You look at him and he's the picture of a healthy 65 year old man so it's hard to imagine someone with a heart of gold having heart problems.  I know he's looking forward to coming home today.

The last week has been chock full of spending once my phone almost died from accidental drowning and things with my Dad.  I went grocery shopping yesterday to get fruit and staples so that I can try to eat a little better this week. The Chicago Half Marathon is this coming Sunday and while I am nervous, I will show up and do my very best.  I am a little sleepy from being in the ER at the hospital until 4am on Sunday morning. Still trying to get back on schedule. That's all folks.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Day 12 Finance & Fitness Journey...

Today was a crazy day. I got up and there was a thunderstorm so I couldn't run outside. Instead I did an hour walk/sprint workout on the treadmill and another hour of Shaun T. My Dad was admitted into the hospital last night after some shortness of breath. Can't take any chances with him after quintuple bypass almost 2 years ago. I bought lunch but ended up picking up pizza for the family.


Day 11 Finance & Fitness Journey...

Expensive eating out day.  Once again I ate out every meal. I did manage to get up that morning to get in a 40 minute Shaun T workout.


Day 10 Finance & Fitness Journey...

I finally got my Proactiv Cleanser. I didn't bring my lunch or dinner and ate out every meal. I know...not good. No exercise either. 


iPhone is Alive...

My iPhone is alive! Thank God! Soon as I fished it out of the water, I ran to the store to buy rice and covered it immediately. I transferred it to a plastic bag as soon as I got home from work.

All in all, I kept my phone in rice a little over 48 hours and dodged a financial bullet. Whew!



Thursday, August 29, 2013

Computer and Timing Purchases...

I am the Queen of timing purchases! I use my Capital One Rewards card to pay for everyday expenses, for emergencies, monthly household utilities and monthly transportation costs. For over a year, I have successfully used and paid the card off each month.  The billing cycle is pretty much from the 15th to the 15th of the next month. Then I pay it off at the end of the month, two weeks after the closing date. So if I have to incur a large expense or make a large purchase, I try to make sure it's just one thing during that 30-day billing cycle.

Right now, my car repair is sitting on my credit card for payoff at the end of next month. If I am able to get the Condo Association to reimburse me the $420 for the pipe repair soon, I will be in great shape. I just need to watch my spending over the next two weeks. If I am able to keep things tight, I won't have to use much if any of the Emergency Fund money my friend gave me for a rainy day.

I am praying that my phone turns back on in the next couple of days because I definitely need it for the Half Marathon on September 8th. This morning I remembered why I had to get a new phone when I realized after charging my old iPhone 3S that I couldn't turn it off. The power off button at the top doesn't work. My sister has a Go Phone she said I could use that she purchased after she too dropped her phone in the toilet. Her iPhone managed to come back on and so did my BFF's iPhone after she dropped it in pool. There is a good track record of these phones turning on after they finally dry out.

The other thing on my radar is a computer. My Dell laptop has a virus on it and doesn't work. I've had my eye on a new computer but now I am thinking that I will take my Dell over to the Geek Squad to see if they can do anything to get it back up and running. That could save me over $1k right now. I really do need a personal computer especially if I plan to do any side legal work. My iPad is limited in its functionality.

So provided my iPhone turns back on and works properly, I may look to get my computer repaired next month. Again...fingers crossed and prayers going up!

More Fun & Less Stress...

I've decided I need to have more fun in my life. I've been a bundle of stress and I'm boring the heck out of myself! I'm going back to doing the things I enjoy. Hanging with friends after work, eating lunch in the park, reading by the lakefront, seeing plays and spending time with my family. None of that requires a lot of money but puts a smile on my face and peace in my heart. 

My finances are on auto-pilot now. The plan is in place.  Now it's about execution.  The debt will be paid off in 5 years.  I'm saving for retirement and getting the bank match.  My expenses are streamlined.  Now I just need to focus on work, side work, and watching my spending to make sure I follow through on executing the plan. 

Now, I get to have fun and watch it all come to fruition. It will be a journey but I've decided it's going to be a good and fun journey. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 9 Finance & Fitness Journey...

Money & Spending:

Today was NOT a good spending day. I didn't pack breakfast or lunch. I didn't cook dinner. I dropped my phone in the toilet by accident. I think it's still alive but I won't know for another 24 hours if I am going to have to bite the bullet and get a new phone. It's sitting in a bag of rice right now trying to dry out.

Health & Fitness:

I put my scale away until after the race. My focus is on getting a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily and to get in longer maintenance runs before the Chicago Half Marathon in less than 2 weeks. I am really trying to push water to help my kidneys so that there is some improvement in my kidney function test when I go back in a month.  Lastly, I am going back to not eating after 6/7 pm which is 3/4 hours before bedtime. That would help tremendously and I would probably sleep better. I've been having some crazy dreams.

Work & Side Work:

Work was good today. I moved on to another review but really enjoyed working on my last review and learning about the agriculture dairy industry. The one thing I like about my job at the Bank is that while the actual work is the same, I get to cross and experience different industries, transactions and banking groups.

I got a call from a friend yesterday about working with him on a few matters he has coming up. If it pans out, he would pay me $50/hour for some legal document review which may lead to other opportunities. I like to think the best of people but I was disappointed when he hired on a paralegal a couple of weeks ago after I offered to do work for him. He did say the paralegal was going more administrative type of work for him right now and will start to do more paralegal type duties in the coming weeks. So perhaps he thought that particular work was beneath me. He is offering me a little more per hour than I originally said I would accept. Who knows. The most important thing is that I figure out the best way to get myself back into the legal game and put my degree and skills to work. Once you have something going, it can snowball and gain momentum.

I am moving forward and doing the things I need to do to put myself in the best position to WIN. 


Dropped My iPhone in the Toilet....

I haven't heard from my friend since yesterday afternoon which is very unlike him so in an effort to stay connected, I took my phone with me to the restroom.  As I went to exit the stall, I jumbled my phone and the darn thing flipped right into the toilet. Enough said! It's working right now but we'll see for how long. I just ran over to Walgreens to get some rice. I heard and read online that the best thing to do it to put your phone in a bowl of rice overnight to get the moisture out. I don't have a bowl at work so it's sitting in a tall cup on my desk covered with rice right now. I hope and pray I won't have to get another phone. My BFF and I were just joking about this a couple of weeks ago. I was going to ride it out with my 4S until it died and well...I still will. Please live! Please live!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Annual Health Physical...

I went for my annual physical last week. My doctor gave me a card to call in for my results after the 30th but on a whim I called last night to see if she left a message. Everything was good with two exceptions. My kidney function level was right at borderline so I was instructed to drink more water. There was also one liver enzyme that was slightly elevated. She wants me to come back in a month to test those again. She's moving to a new practice so I'll be making the appointment today at the new location to make sure I get on the schedule. I've never had any issues with my kidneys or liver before.

One thing I do know is stress manifests itself physically and this has been a blessed but stressful year with issues at work, plumbing issues with my condo, financial and liquidity strain and trying to build a new relationship long distance. I've done my best to juggle everything, pay everything, make strategic moves and take care of everything and everyone's needs. I am blessed beyond measure so I want to make that clear. I'm just so tired. Tired of trying so hard, sacrificing and knowing in my heart that it's still not enough. I've got to take better care of myself mentally, physically and spiritually despite the goals and  challenges ahead. 

I came home last night to nothing. An empty house. How many years have I done that now and felt utterly alone? I'll stay in my place through the year. If there is no indication that things in my personal life are changing in the near term, I'll sell my place for a loss or rent it out and move home with my parents. Not ideal but I'd have some company and I would be able to free up cash flow to accelerate debt payments and put myself in a better financial situation.  

Hope you guys have a good day. Thanks for reading. 

Day 8 Finance & Fitness Journey...

Not a terrible spending day. I did bring breakfast and lunch today but I got hungry in the late afternoon.  I ran over to Wendy's before I went home for the day.  So it was an early dinner.  I also purchased an eBook on Amazon.  I am going through the entire JD Robb series by Nora Roberts. There are over 30 books in the series and I may be nearing Book 15. I can get some from the library as well. My card just expired last month so I will renew it over the weekend. There is always a waiting list so I try to check out as many books as possible. 

That's all folks! =)


Returns and Reimbursements...

I got email confirmations that my returns to Victoria Secret were received. The total amount was $212.

Earlier this year, I had a major water leak caused by a broken pipe underground.  I sent an email today to the Condo Association to submit a copy of the $420 invoice to be reimbursed for the pipe repair work. The broken pipe was outside my four walls and underground. Therefore, it is considered part of the common area of the association. Now that the Bank is paying for the empty unit across the hall from me, the Association should have sufficient funds to reimburse me soon.

All good things.

Why Complain...

I was thinking last night and this morning about complaining and negative energy. I've been guilty of it and those around me lately have been as well.  Do you think it's possible to go a day without complaining?  I think we collectively need to be more aware of when we are complaining.  If we stop for a second and think about all we have to be grateful for, we would put out much better positive energy.  We would realize there is so much more to be thankful for than there is to complain about.

We have to turn things around when we start thinking and talking about what we don't want, what we don't wish to happen and what we don't appreciate.  We can pivot and focus our thoughts and words on what we do want, what we wish to happen and what we do appreciate.  There is no need to focus on the negatives when we can take that same energy to focus on the positives in people, circumstances and events.  Then you have a chance (which is all you need) to bring more of what you like and appreciate into your life. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 7 Finance and Fitness Journey...

Money & Spending:

Today was a ZERO spend day! I brought breakfast and lunch and a ton of fruit with me to work so I didn't have to spend anything eating out. I am not a big cooker but I came home and made dinner tonight so I have leftovers for tomorrow. I had this funny moment when I knew I was trying to make something I'm not familiar with so I said to myself, you better throw some canned green beans on just in case. lol.

Health & Fitness:

Weighed in at 170 this morning again. Monday and Friday are my off workout days. So, I have to get some exercise in tomorrow and I have to do it either early in the morning or inside because we're expecting high temps in the 90's again.  I wore size 10 pants today.  Although my weight has gone up, I am still fitting in the smaller size pants.  That is a plus for me.  I need to get more consistent with drinking water and getting to bed by 10 o'clock. I will do great one day, so-so another day, and not too great another day. Consistency it key.

Work and Side Work:

I am plugging away at the Bank. We are nearing year end on 9/30 so I am trying to end on a high productivity note before we start doing annual performance evaluations.

I worked a little bit on a basic website for Chitown Law Group last week. I have to get fee agreement letters prepared, order some business cards, work on templates, continue brushing up on the law and explore marking alternatives.  I have a pretty good meeting scheduled next month and I need to develop a pipeline of networking opportunities.  Public speaking is not my thing but I am fairly good in small groups and one on one. Come to think of it, I think there may be a Toastmasters Group here at the Bank. If I join, I may be able to develop my public speaking skills. Note to Chitown to look into Toastmasters!

That's all for me. Since I just started blogging back consistently, I am trying to find out if any of my old pals are out there still blogging and trying to make new friends along the way. =)




21 Random Facts About Chitown...

1 - I love brussel sprouts.
2 - My parents got my real name from the movie The Godfather.
3 - I have a lot of birthmarks in two different colors.
4 - When I was in junior high, I wanted to be an astronaut or a psychologist. 
5 - My number #1 pet peeve is cigarettes. 
6 - I don't like driving because it's boring. 
7 - My favorite color is purple followed closely by green. 
8 - I have a fear of public speaking. 
9 - I've had my ears pierced more than 5 different times. 
10 - I've always had an eerie feeling going downstairs in my parent's basement. 
11 - I don't like floral perfumes. 
12 - I only had two wisdom teeth. 
13 - I graduated 8th in my high school class.
14 - My favorite author is Nora Roberts. 
15 - My favorite movie is Pretty Woman - "I want the fairy tale"
16 - Haagen Dazs butter pecan is my favorite ice cream. 
17 - I once sang the Star Spangled Banner at the opening of a little league game. 
18 - Fall is my favorite season. 
19 - My sports nickname growing up was Magic so I wore the number 32. 
20 - I daydream a lot but I don't remember what I'm dreaming about. 
21 - The three things I want most is a happy marriage, healthy children and to be debt free. 

Jamba Juice...

I love Jamba Juice especially on a hot day like today when there is an expected high of 92 degrees. My co-coworker sent me an IM with just one word..."Jamba?". I knew I was going to get anything but I said, sure I could go for a walk. When we got there he said I'm treating. I found this gift card in my wallet. I was like...YES!!! He didn't know I wasn't going to get anything but I sure appreciated the treat! Score one for Chitown! =)

Monday...

Good Morning!  I am on the train headed to the office and feeling good.  All is well.  I have my breakfast and lunch packed so it should be a zero spend day unless I can stop by Macy's just to get some proactiv cleanser.  That's a need vs. want.  Since yesterday was a high spend day, I have to be very diligent this week with planning and saying No!  Not just to myself but to my coworkers who wan to go out for lunch and friends who want to go for Happy Hour, etc. 

It's going to be a good week. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 6...

I had a spend day. After struggling through 11 miles this morning, I went to the grocery store to stock up on fruit and to get a loaf of bread. I had leftover alcohol from a party, gatorade, condiments and bottled water in my fridge. That's all folks. I don't really even drink. I need to give that away to my brother-in-law but then my fridge would look super empty. lol

They sent out a blast last Friday that the fridge wasn't working properly. We had to take everything out until it can be repaired. So I stocked up on fruit and grabbed some bread to make PB&J's this week. Why is eating healthy so expensive?!?! I purchased apples, nectarines, grapes, watermelon, melon, bananas and bread and I spent almost $50. Man! The grapes alone were damn near $10 and I didn't buy organic. Oh well...I am going to be a fruit eating sister! I really want to watch what I eat over the next two weeks until the marathon is over. Two years ago, I got food poisoning the day before the race and couldn't run. All that training and I couldn't lace up the sneakers. Not this year! 

After church, I swung by to meet up with my BFF. Her ex husband got remarried today and it was just one of those days when you should have someone with you. She wanted to go to Chili's so we went to Chili's. Not terribly expensive but when you top it off with the groceries, it was a spending day!




Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 5...

I had a really great day. I am always better when I'm surrounded by family and love. My condo feels so stale and hollow when it's just me but when my friend comes into town it feels like home. I grew up in a tight knit family so living by myself isn't great. I like my alone time every now and again but then I'm ready for company. One day, he'll relocate to Chicago and Chitown will be a happy lady.

It was another good spending day. We spent the day visiting his family member who is here for cancer treatment. His Cousin is an awesome man with a great sense of humor. He is battling this disease with such a force and spirit that I will never forget. It saddens me when tough things happen to good people but when you see them get knocked down and then get back up and say "now what?!?!", it just shows the strength of the human spirit. If he can fight this battle, surely I can fight the battle against this debt. 

I spent $20 on lunch so I just squeaked over the $100 threshold. Not bad for my first week. 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Debt Sucks...

Student loans suck! Credit card debt sucks! Being under water on my mortgage sucks! 

It's literally feels sometimes like the debt is choking the light and the life out of me. I keep a smile on my face though. Smile through the pain. Stay Positive! Stay Optimistic! Knowing I pray everyday that my debt is zero balanced so I can be free and really reach my full potential. Sooner rather than later. $228,000!!! I do believe in miracles. I know I'll be free one day.  In the meantime, I'll keep busting my butt and of course...I'll keep smiling. =)


Day 4...

Good day! $10 on food for breakfast and dinner. $30 for pedicure including tip. I am at $93 for the week so far. One more day to go. =)

On a pretty awesome note, my friend decided to join me on the spending fast. He's not in the same position financially. He's in a much better position and he has a solid head on his shoulders. After digging himself out of debt many years ago, he enjoys freedom from a debt free life. He wants the same for me. It's always nice to have a partner in the journey. =)


Weight Watchers Cancelled....

I cancelled my WW subscription today. I rarely use it and there are a couple of other free apps on my phone that I think are very good and helpful. I will say, WW works if you are diligent and have the time to input your foods. I would give it a thumps up!

TGIF!!!

I will admit it...I am thankful for my job but not crazy about it so I live for Fridays. On weekends, I am free from the Bank and can chill, relax and have some fun. Because I live for Fridays and have for years, I know banking isn't for me. It feels like work. Every day and every second.

I didn't run this morning. I've been dragging so much lately and super tired during the day. I know it's because of what I've been eating and these extra 10 lbs I'm carrying. Ugh!!! I am most comfortable in my skin around 160. 

I am a little nervous about the upcoming Chicago Half Marathon. It's 2 weeks away and I may have 9 miles solid but I really need 10-11 miles solid. I'm just not motivated because it's really hard and boring to train on your own. Every run has been solo. I look forward to the weekend runs because at least there are other people on the trail. I am such a dork. I get so happy to see people, I'm waving and saying "good morning" throwing off my steps and breathing. lol Oh well! It is what it is...2 more weeks and I will knock out this race but I'm not where I'd hoped to be physically by now. Kind of disappointing. 

I looked at my budget yesterday and I going to make some more cuts. Cable is going, I am going to increase my insurance deductible and I am going to cancel my weight watchers subscription since I don't use it. That's close to $200/month in savings. 

It's been a decent spending week. If I take the whole week into account, I am at $50 so far. I brought my lunch today but I need to get a pedicure after work. That and my eyebrows once a month are the only things I don't do myself. I stayed up last night and gave myself a no chip manicure. My hands are saying "thank you!" 

That's about it folks.  I am on target to spend less than $100 this week. Have a great Friday and a great weekend! 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 3...

Money

$5 people!!! Day 3 was another really good day.  I brought leftovers in for lunch and purchased a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. I did also buy some soup from the cafeteria to hold me over through my lunch meeting. Who the heck schedules a meeting from 11-1 in Chicago with people in Florida? I tell you! It's lunch time people! Anyway, I made it through my meeting and I am doing so much better with my doodling! I am almost an expert! LOL

My Mom is cooking dinner this evening and invited me over. I am not a fan of big dinners (love big lunches) so I will probably munch a little and grab some leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Can you tell...I love leftovers!!! 

Exercise

I got my 40 minute workout in this morning! Oh yeah! I have to get up again in the morning and crank out some miles. I am thinking 5 miles for a maintenance run.

Work

I am a member of The Illinois State Bar Association. Today I signed up for two free training classes on using FastCase which is a legal research service offered free through the ISBA as part of my membership. This cuts down on the need for expensive research services like Westlaw and LexisNexis and is a great tool for small law firms.

There is lots of work and prep that needs to be done to get Chitown Law Group back up and running to earn additional income. I know I have fielded several calls and emails for legal help this year. I referred all of them out to other practicing attorneys in my network. Wouldn't it be nice to keep some of that income for Chitown?!?! Absolutely!!! So, I need to get working to network, market myself, brush up on the law, attend court to observe, reconnect with mentors in different law areas and get the basics like a work laptop (eventually), business cards and a basic website. My laptop is DEAD, by business cards have stale information but I have everything else already set up and in place. In the meantime, I can use my iPad and work laptop until the legal work really starts coming. 

That's about all folks...$5!!! Day 3 Baby!!! =)

Personal Care Items...


I am a lady!  As such, I need my personal care items.  Unfortunately, the products I found that work best for me aren't the most inexpensive.

I gave up going to my hair stylist weekly to get my hair done back in 2010.  That was costing me $180/month.  Now, I just go 4 times a year to get the ends of my hair trimmed.  I embraced my naturally curly hair and I use Mixed Chicks hair products in the larger size liter bottles.  The deep conditioner combined with the leave-in conditioner costs me approximately $100 every two months.


The other product that I use is Proactiv and I've been using it since 2003.  It simply works best for me. When I deviate to try other products...look out!!!  It's not so good. LOL  Proactiv costs me about $60 every two months.


So why am I telling you all of this?!?!  I happened to realize that both products will need to be replenished either this weekend or next week.  Utilizing the need based approach, I won't feel bad about making the purchases.  However, I just wish they didn't need replenishing at the same darn time! =)

Morning Workout...

After snoozing for about 45 minutes, I finally got my tail up to exercise before work. I was going to skip it but then I was just talking about my weigh in yesterday and how I needed to get moving in the morning. So, I cranked out a quick 40 minute workout and now I'm on my way to the office.

Weight this morning was 170!!! Ouch!!! I was 164 just a few weeks ago and 174 on the scale at the doc yesterday so I'm all over the place. Despite the scale gain, I'm still swimming in my pants so I know I've lose inches even if the scale went up a bit.

I managed to go straight home last night and make dinner. I wanted take-out chicken enchiladas with chips & salsa but found all the ingredients at home to make a quick jambalaya from an old Paula Deen recipe. I even found some chips & salsa at home to snack on while dinner was cooking. Now, I have leftovers for lunch today. My Mom invited me to dinner this evening so it should be another easy spend day. 

Here are the pics for my jambalaya from the beginning to the end product. Yummy! 


End Product
Beginning Product



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 2...

I am sitting here on the train and my stomach is growling every few seconds. I am so hungry. I missed a real breakfast because my train stalled this morning. I just grabbed some canned fruit I had in the fridge for emergencies at work. Then I grabbed a quick bite at Wendy's before I went to the doc for my annual physical. It was a busy day. I was just sitting here thinking about the chicken enchiladas with chips & salsa that I want and will order when I get off the train. Then I remembered...that would cost close to $20 from the restaurant even for take out. So...I will be taking my butt home and finding something there to prepare.

I got on the scale at the doc and OMG!!! What the heck have I been doing the last month?!?! My butt doesn't need enchilada anything!!! Back to morning workouts. I won't even tell you the number on the scale...it's way too painful!!! 

I took a bag of clothes over to my mom for her to ship back to Victoria Secret yesterday. I went on a mini vacation to FL in July and I purchased some pj's and swimwear. The sizes were too big so I ordered smaller sizes and I need to send the wrong ones back. I tallied and its close to $150 that will go back on my card. I'll take it!!!

So here is my tally for the day. Not bad!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 1...

I have to go to the grocery store this weekend. Before I go, I have to plan because the grocery store is DANGEROUS!!! Keeping to a list has been near impossible historically.

$400/month is keeping my spending under $15/day. So here's spending for Day 1. This was breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Day 1